Weston Voices: JINDU Restaurant Crosses Borders, Brings Asia Home
Travelers on the Route 20 mega-highway through Wayland to Weston and vice versa will have noticed a newcomer restaurant named JINDU at 131 Boston Post Road in Wayland, or as I like to call it “almost-Weston.” JINDU, which translates to Golden City in Chinese, is owned by Weston residents Nick Feng and Claire Huang, and the Owl family checked it out two weeks ago when the craving for sushi overcame the feathered flock. And are we ever happy we did, because we now have a new favorite for Asian cuisine.
The JINDU menu is wholly Asian but covers a range from sushi boat to lo mein to tempura. We admit that we concentrated hard on sushi during our visit, which meant a sushi boat for two (we were in four), surf clam nigiri, and because no one can resist it, some crab rangoon. Shout-out to our server Plu for whom we believe there are no bad days.
We couldn’t finish it all, it was so well-served–the sushi boat arriving with some dry ice smokiness, the fish fresh and melt-in-your-mouthy. It is at this point that you will realize that the Owl is a terrible restaurant reviewer because the descriptors fail me. So here is my admonishment: Go. Try. Love. It’s like Eat Pray Love but less preachy.
After our spectacular dinner, with great and friendly service, the Owl got in touch with Claire, who agreed to meet on a Knox Park bench one sunny day last week. She even brought me some surprise hot dishes (beef lo mein and General Tso’s chicken) in a green and gold re-useable bag when she heard that I had only tried the sushi dishes. There are moments when I truly love my largely-work-of-love job. I think I will now profess that I don’t know which is better–the sushi or the hot dishes so perhaps I will have to try them all again. And again. As of now, Claire says that the sushi outsells the hot food, but it may be a matter of time.
Owl: Tell us about how JINDU started.
Claire: My husband Nick and I were part-owners in an Asian restaurant in Waltham. During the COVID shutdowns and restaurant struggles, Nick decided he would really like to open his own place. It was a tough time to get folks to believe in us–to get a loan, to find a location, and to get support from potential customers. What we discovered was that the locals–and I include Coach Grill (which was one of the first to open its doors post-shutdown) as one of our supporters–and residents were really encouraging and supportive of us. The owner of the building of Prime 131 Grill liked our proposal because we were willing and wanting to keep the old building and not tear it down. In fact we did minimum changes because it was so hard to get stuff due to SCI (Ed.: you know…supply chain issues).
How did you go about staffing JINDU?
Well, my husband oversees the whole place in general, but we have a Japanese chef – Masaki-sen – and a Chinese chef, Mr. Huang. The two chefs really have had to work in lockstep so things leave the kitchen and the sushi bar in an organized and synchronized way. Masaki-san is very strict about quality and nothing leaves his domain without being 100% right. We are so lucky to have them both at JINDU.
One of the bigger challenges we have, and I would say joys, is the number of different languages and people we have working with us. For example our floor manager Pui Fong Tan-Collazo ( Stephanie) is from Malaysia, we have Thai servers, folks from Hong Kong, speaking Cantonese and Mandarin and Korean. Our Chinese chef does not read English so we have computer systems that translate to the kitchen and back again.
When was the official opening and how did it go?
We did a soft opening on June 12. We wanted to go slow because we knew that our reputation was at stake. If the first week is a disaster of lost orders or delays or whatever, people don’t come back. We had a lot of computer learning going on, plus just general first week jitters. We feel like we got through that week thanks to local support–I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that folks came from all around – Acton, Sudbury, Wayland and of course Weston. We have loved having the local support.
Why the name JINDU?
JINDU was the name my husband very much wanted for the place–it means Golden City in Chinese, and is pronounced the same in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. And it’s easy to pronounce for just about anyone. By the way, the green and gold colors are also considered lucky colors.
Tell us some more about the menu
One of the most popular, and most Americanized dishes, is the lo mein. We made a conscious decision in building our menu to cater to the tastes of our largest number of clients. Almost 80-90% of our clientele is local so we keep the spice down, and we don’t cook with MSG.
Editor’s Note: Also for those of you familiar with the “secret menu” of In N Out Burger, know that there is a SECRET ramen menu, that needs a special handshake and two snaps of your fingers. No, not really, but the ramen menu is only available on weekends from 12-3 pm and that’s the secret.
At this time, JINDU is open six days a week, though there are plans to open on Mondays as well soon. They do have a private room for parties of around 20 people or fewer and events are usually done with pre-ordered food on a special menu. JINDU is also getting into catering, and as of September (that would be very soon) will have third-party delivery options rather than just pick-up.
You would never know from talking with Claire that her day job is not in the restaurant–she works in a hematology lab at Newton-Wellesley. One would imagine that many a weekend and evening is around the restaurant though. The family is expecting their fourth child, and has three others, aged 14, 7 and 2. Several high school students are employed by JINDU- go ‘cats! – and at least one owlet would like to intern with Masaki-sen at the sushi bar. Perhaps one day.
JINDU’s menu is large enough that you may never get bored. The Owlets are planning to order everything with dry ice from now on so they can disappear all the best cuts of sushi while hiding behind the smoke. Fortunately, owls do have 270 degree head rotation so they’ll have to come up with Plan B.
Welcome, JINDU, to almost-Weston! See you again soon!
JINDU is located at 131 Boston Post Road in Wayland. They are closed Mondays, open Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 am-9 pm, Friday 11:30 am -10 pm, Saturday 12 -10 pm and Sunday 12-9 pm. http://www.jindurestaurant.com.